Hidden & Undisclosed Assets
What is the Law on Assets in NYS
The New York Domestic Relations Law says that all property and assets acquired during a marriage are marital property, regardless of whether the property is held in the names of both spouses or in the name of one spouse. Only after all assets are disclosed, can the court determine equitable distribution of that marital asset. I
In New York State, during the divorce process, spouses have a fiduciary duty to each other to disclose all of their assets in order to ensure proper division of the parties assets and liabilities known as Equitable Distribution. What does “fiduciary duty” mean? Having a fiduciary duty means that you are working in good faith for the best interests of the party to whom the fiduciary duty is owed.
This may seem like an odd thing during a divorce. A divorce is an adversarial process in which each spouse is attempting to get the best possible outcome for themselves. Having a fiduciary duty does not mean you have to sacrifice financial benefit. It does not mean you have to give up parenting time or financial assets. It simply means that one must be honest about the assets they hold. This includes money, investments, businesses, real estate or any other items of value including things such as an art collection or other valuable possessions. Full disclosure allows for meaningful and well-informed settlement.
Hidden Assets in Divorce
There are instances where a spouse is concerned that their husband or wife has hidden or undisclosed assets. For example, one spouse may be operating a lucrative business that is held in a family member's name. Or, a spouse may hold real estate that is titled to a corporation, or bank accounts that are undisclosed. We have helped our clients uncover undisclosed assets through engaging in a rigorous discovery process. Some cases may require employing investigators such as forensic accountants to make sure the documents we receive during the discovery process tell a complete story. If there is a question as to whether or not a spouse is hiding assets, we will do a deep dive into the accounting to make sure all of the assets are properly accounted for. Private Investigators may also be hired to find evidence of other forms of assets. If your spouse has just decided that the best way to deal with the issue of divorce and hiding assets is to disappear, we also work with “skip tracers” to locate individuals along with the unreported assets. The process of uncovering and proving the existence of hidden assets to the Court is arduous, but an important part of respecting your legal rights.
First, both child and spousal support calculations are based upon income---it is imperative, therefore, that each spouse's income is accurately reflected. Our office has years of experience uncovering the hidden income and assets of non-custodial parents seeking to avoid support obligations. In addition, assets accumulated during the marriage are generally marital. Each spouse is entitled to their respective share of these assets. A fair settlement, or in some instances a fair decision made by a Judge, requires full disclosure. Where one party is seeking to hide assets or income, it is important to work with a skilled attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Discovering Assets Post-Judgment
Even if a divorce is final, if it is found out after the fact that assets were hidden, then we can bring a Contempt of Court claim, or a motion to vacate the judgement and reopen the case. If you believe your ex-spouse hid assets during your divorce proceeding, contact our office to explore your options.
What Do I Do if I Think My Spouse Is Hiding Assets in a Divorce?
Even under the best conditions, a divorce is a stressful time. Your life is in a state of flux, your kids are dealing with their parents not being together, and in addition you might be dealing with moving to a new house, town, and school district. Dealing with a spouse who is not being truthful about assets can just make a stressful situation unbearable.
Amina Rashad has been a member of the New York Bar with a primary focus on Family Law. If you are looking to begin or have already started the process of divorce and you believe your spouse is either hiding assets, or even planning on skipping town to avoid a confrontation, call Amina at 516-522-2718, or contact us online for a free consultation.
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Amina Rashad has focused primarily on Family Law. in order to develop a nuanced understanding of the issues that arise within the context of divorce, including hidden and undisclosed assets. If you are looking to begin or have already started the process of divorce and you believe your spouse is either hiding assets, or even planning on skipping town to avoid a confrontation, call Amina at 516-522-2718 or contact us online for a free consultation.